Sorry for the delay on today's post. Between Nathan's cousin's son's funeral, and Sophia's hockey tournament, I got behind. But all the driving did give me a great opportunity to listen to several sermons on today's passage.
12 Then the Spirit[c] lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice[d] of a great earthquake: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place!” 13 It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, and the sound of a great earthquake. 14 The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the Lord being strong upon me.15 And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling.[e] And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days.
A Watchman for Israel16 And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for[f] his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
22 And the hand of the Lord was upon me there. And he said to me, “Arise, go out into the valley,[g] and there I will speak with you.” 23 So I arose and went out into the valley, and behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the Chebar canal, and I fell on my face. 24 But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house. 25 And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. 26 And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. 27 But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house.
Yesterday we saw a vision of the glory of God. It was an amazing vision. One that we can never quite imagine or experience the way Ezekiel did because it truly was beyond description.
Today we see the call of Ezekiel into ministry. It wasn't exactly an exciting call. He was called to preach judgment on the people of Israel, and in 3:7 God tells him that nobody is going to listen to his message. Who would want to answer that call?
Rayburn contends that Ezekiel likely didn't want to either. He wouldn't be the first or the last hesitant prophet. Moses and Jonah immediately come to mind. Rayburn gives several reasons why the text might indicate Ezekiel's reluctance to accept the call of God....
We tend to make more of our spiritual heroes than we should. All men, Ezekiel and any other biblical character included, are fallible. But when we are willing to be used as God's instruments we are successful, as He defines success.
In Ezekiel's case, he was certainly not successful by any human standards. He was successful in the eyes of God because he obeyed, despite his reluctance. He was successful in the eyes of God because he preached the message he was sent to preach, despite the recipients unwillingness to receive it. He was also proven successful when his prophecies came to pass - something that was completely in God's control, not his. Our success does not depend on ourselves. Thank the Lord for that because we would never stand a chance. Our success depends on the faithfulness of the God we serve, and He will never let us down.
I love Rayburn's conclusion to his first sermon on this passage.....
If there is a personal application for us all in this narrative of the call of an unwilling prophet – for obviously we are not all to be the Lord’s prophets in the sense in which Ezekiel was – that application is that weak, frail, and very ordinary people, even people who really don’t want to do God’s will and don’t feel capable of doing the his will, can do, will do, and are to do what the Lord calls them to do. He will tell us what he wants us to do – he has told us in his Word! – his Spirit will stand us upon our feet; he will repeat his instructions over and again until we hear them; he will stuff them down our throats if that is what it takes; and he will encourage us to believe that we can do his will, that he will see us through.
Legge submits that the reason the Israelites would refuse to listen to Ezekiel's message from God was because of their refusal to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and to submit to His Lordship. And our motivation, as God's servants, should ultimately be to bring glory to God....
Are we Spirit-filled? Are we filled with the word of God? Are we hard-headed, but are we broken-hearted? Will we go and say what God says, and say nothing more and say nothing less? The message is this, this is our responsibility.... if they believe it, they believe it; and if they don't, they don't - but all the glory goes to God.
Rayburn's concluding points in his second sermon are striking as well.....
What makes the study of Ezekiel so important for us here in the early years of the 21st century is precisely that the spiritual world it describes, the principles of life and death that it teaches and illustrates, are the same today as then. The possibility of individuals taking steps today that will ensure their damnation later, the possibility of our generation of the church taking steps in our time that will lead to a situation in which future generations will be utterly deaf to the Word of God and hardened against God’s mercy, I say, these possibilities are very real.....
The lesson of Ezekiel 2 and 3 is the same as that repeated in the New Testament:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ezekiel 4-5
Sunday's passage: Genesis 9-10
Monday's passage: Genesis 11-12, Psalm 4, Matthew 4